What would happen in an imaginary encounter between AI and the revered advertising client?
Client: Hmmm. Yaar AI.
AI: Yes sir.
Client: Mazaa nahin aayaa.
Client: I mean the copy is there, but not there.
AI: It will help if you could be a bit more specific.
Client (looks at senior account guy): Yaar you should show AI some great ads to open his mind.
Senior account guy: Actually, AI went through 9.6 million ads in this same category before writing this one.
AI: 9.75 million. But I am still learning.
Client: That's deep. I love that. See, this is good copy. It’s good. But it lacks punch.
AI: Could you give me an example?
Client: Let me think...what was that line? Isko laga dala toh life jingalala. Yes, that had punch.
(Senior account guy shifts nervously in his seat)
Client: Get some twist in the copy. Twist samajhte ho na?
AI: Of course. It means to form into a bent, curling, or distorted shape. To cause to rotate around a stationary point; turn. An act of twisting something around a stationary point. A thing with a spiral shape.
Client: Nahin yaar. You are getting too literal. See, what was that other line? Next is what. They could have said what is next. But they said next is what. Now that’s a twist.
AI: I can change the sequence of words if you want.
Client: Nahin yaar. Kuchh fresh likho, something unique…maybe something like Epang Opang Jhapang?
AI: That makes no sense.
(Senior account guy kicks AI under the table)
Client (to senior account guy): Let’s do something. Let AI write the back of pack copy. For this ad, get that Ashish Khazanchi chap.
Senior account guy: Umm…
Client: Just do it, yaar.
Note: Much is being written about how Artificial Intelligence will eventually replace copywriters. The entire argument seems to be hinging on two assumptions. One, that copywriters only write copy, which is nothing but a meaningful construct of words that can be found in the OED or in places such as the back of pack of a product. Two, that AI can do everything.
Andrew NG, co-founder and head of Google Brain and former Chief Scientist at Baidu suggests that a reasonable approach would be to expect AI to automate specific tasks. We humans, however, tend to get carried away when there’s something new in town. Especially when it is something that’s not completely understood yet. The truth is that to be creative is to be able to imagine, feel and evoke authentic emotions. And there’s very little room for anything artificial in that.
(The author, till recently, was the Joint President & Chief Creative Officer of Rediffusion. He is currently on a break from work and spends his time between writing, gardening, babysitting pets and planning for a post-pandemic world.)
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